Updated: Apr 11, 2020
We had the privilege of sitting with a young adult from a Middle Eastern country. We will call him Emir. Emir comes from a family whose religious background is Alawi.
As Emir grew into adulthood, he felt a longing to seek truth. He became a more traditional Muslim, practicing his faith, attending the mosque, and reading his Quran, however he was still left with an emptiness in his heart. Emir says he always felt as if there was something wrong with him or with Islam.
After completing university, Emir encountered a group of Christian missionaries who were serving in his community. These missionaries befriended Emir and ministered to him through simple acts of hospitality. In Middle Eastern culture sharing meals and demonstrating hospitality is extremely important as it shows respect and a sincere investment of friendship.
Emir's new friends showed him the love of Christ by devoting their time to him. They were attentive and listened to him share about his life, always pointing him to the Scriptures for wisdom and insight. After one and a half years, Emir committed his life to Christ, and today he is attending church, serving in worship and receiving mentoring by his pastor!
Emir shared with us that prior to coming to Christ, the only things he knew of Christians was that of which he saw through social media and news. He expected violence and hatred toward Muslims, but instead he found genuine love towards him and his friends, while also seeing the way they loved one another as brothers and sisters.
The investment of time that missionaries commit to in order to build relationships with Muslims can be lengthy and come with a cost. It often requires sacrificing sleep or rest after long days. In America, it's customary to return from work and settle in for the evening, but in Middle Eastern culture, fellowship and tea/coffee time is important and almost mandatory. It can be offensive and sever relationships, therefore discernment is required in order to maintain a good friendship.